Today is supposed to be the Krewe du Vieux parade. It was cancelled because of the pandemic. The timing was good for me: last year was the worst Carnival season I’ve had since coming to New Orleans in 1987. I wrote about some aspects it in a piece called The Cursed Carnival?
Shorter Adrastos: I needed a year off from Carnival so I’m not as unhappy with the situation as most people are. Some of the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewes including Spank are presenting art installations instead of marching. Since I wasn’t feeling it, I did not participate. So it goes.
John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for his 2003 album Beneath This Gruff Exterior. It’s one of his fatherhood songs as it describes taking his daughter to college. It also rocks much harder than the cradle ever should.
We have two versions of Circle Back for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version. Both feature Sonny Landreth and the Goners.
I mentioned Hiatt’s fatherhood songs. Here are two more:
Now that we’ve rocked the cradle, let’s jump to the break before we get too dizzy.
This frail-looking and petite woman was so mentally and morally tough that some thought she was immortal. I’ve spent a lot of time around people over 80 in the last decade, so I was not surprised. It was a nearly unparalleled act of will for her survive the sort of major illnesses that would have finished off lesser beings. As depicted by the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe of Mishigas in 2019, Justice Ginsburg was a fighter,
There have been many marvelous tributes to Justice Ginsburg. Here’s a brief list:
Pierce made an apt comparison between Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. As a litigator, Ginsburg followed the trail blazed by Marshall and fought to establish important rights for women. Thurgood Marshall, however, was a reluctant judge. He preferred being on the other side of the courtroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just as distinguished a jurist as an advocate. Those two skills rarely coincide. She was a remarkable person who led an exemplary life both personally and professionally. Above all else, she was a fighter.
While I wish that Justice Ginsburg had retired while Barack Obama was still president, her reasons were based on her experience as a Justice. Each generation of Justices learns a different lesson: Bill Brennan and Thurgood Marshall retired when they did because of the negative example set by Hugo Black and Bill Douglas who stayed on the Court too long. Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw her friend and colleague Sandra Day O’Connor regret her retirement to care for a husband who died while she was still on the court. That was a major turning point as her replacement was Samuel Alito who is an unbending member of the conservative bloc whereas O’Connor was the ultimate swing vote.
We’re on the cusp of another turning point with Justice Ginsburg’s death 46 days before the election. Those of us who admire Justice Ginsburg should follow her example, get off the floor, and fight back. I heard despair and defeatism this weekend. That’s a shitty way to honor a tough old bird like RBG, Dahlia Lithwick said it best:
America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.
The confirmation battle is joined. The most cynical man in politics has already discarded the rule bearing his name. The Turtle plans to move a Trump nominee through the Senate. I suspect he’ll do the most cynical thing imaginable and hold the vote in the lame duck session. To do otherwise, would doom the only thing that McConnell cares about as much as SCOTUS, his Senate majority.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has already flip-flopped on his pledge not to push a nomination through in an election year. Nobody should be surprised. In 2016, Graham called Trump “a kook and a con man” among other ephemeral epithets. Now they’re golfing buddies.
The Democratic minority should announce a concrete and specific Court reform plan. (Don’t call it court packing, that evokes FDR’s failure in 1937-38.) It should expand the number of Justices to eleven. They should also pledge to abolish the filibuster if a Trump nominee is rammed through. It’s time for it to go.
I saw some despairing tweets that a SCOTUS battle would decide the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Color me skeptical. Conservatives who care about SCOTUS and abortion sold their souls to President* Pennywise long ago. In 2020, it’s more likely to galvanize Democrats. A reminder that the Kavanaugh Mess did NOT turn the 2018 mid-terms in the GOP’s favor. The number that counts is this: 204,122 and counting dead of the novel coronavirus.
Back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an inspiring figure who will be missed, especially by the young women she inspired to fight the good fight. Women will decide the 2020 election. My hope is that they will be inspired to keep fighting until Democrats recapture the White House and Senate. Vote like the fate of the Republic depends on it. It does.
The last word goes to RBG’s close friend Nina Totenberg with a tweet for the ages:
A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones God has held back until the last moment bc they were needed most & were the most righteous. And so it was that #RBG died as the sun was setting last night marking the beginning of RoshHashanah
If you’re like me you’re either saddened and/or outraged by the recent surge of COVID-19. Those of us who live in places where the state and local governments appeared to be on top of things were feeling a bit smug. Our optimism was premature. If anything, the latest wave is larger and scarier than the first one that struck back in March.
The whole debate over “reopening” has returned to bite us in the ass. I think we know who’s responsible for that:
Image by Michael F.
The grotesque incompetence of the Trump regime and its politicization of a public health emergency has led to these numbers: a record 53,000+ new cases yesterday and 130,000 Americans dead and counting.
One of the richest countries in the world has the worst outbreak. That’s down to horrendous leadership at the federal level and the way President* Pennywise has fobbed off responsibility onto state and local officials. The virus does not respect state lines or national borders. It’s an equal opportunity killer.
It never had to be this bad. One way things can be turned around is by wearing a mask in public. The flying monkeys of Trumpistan have turned this into a political issue. Freedom, man. Senator Aqua Buddha recently mocked Tony Fauci for being an expert. Freedom, man.
The featured image is by John Valentino one of the most talented members of Krewe du Vieux. He executed the image to accompany a June 26th Facebook post by one of our most eminent members, Dr. Jim Aiken who is an emergency medicine specialist at LSU Medical School and University Medical Center.
I tried to post the Facebook message here without success so here’s Dr. Jim’s message cut and pasted for your perusal:
As the leaders of an organization with a rich history of portraying, advancing and living the culture of New Orleans, I’m writing to ask you to join me in urging our members, families, friends and everyone the Krewe touches to do the right thing to reverse a frightening resurgence of new COVID cases in our community.
My appeal comes not from a concern whether we have a Marxist Gras (sic) next year, but from a deep concern over the threat this virus poses to the lives of those we love.
We lost Ronald Lewis and Ellis Marsalis to the virus among other musical icons. We have lost 1000 dead to the virus in Orleans and Jefferson Parish since we began tracking 4 months ago. And we have no cure, no scientifically proven medication that will significantly change mortality, and no vaccine available until the end of the year.
After an initial community behavior of wearing masks, social isolation and avoiding large groups that was encouraging, I am now stunned with the widespread irresponsibility that came from the Phase 2 opening. I still do not believe this stupidity is a true reflection of who we are, but it is obviously enough to push the pandemic case and hospitalizations “curves” upwards. Do not buy into the foolishness that this phenomenon is simply from more testing. Those of us in the emergency departments last week knew ahead from our increase in COVID related emergencies that these statistics would come to be what they are now.
The undisputed science from centuries of experience is that social distancing and masking is the mainstay of mitigating pandemics. The other irrefutable science now is that this virus has vicious characteristics in terms in how it spreads and how it kills. The irresponsible among us may not be the ones to suffer the consequences of their inactions. It will be the ones they associate later, the elderly, those with medical problems that led to an increase in a horrible death from the coronavirus.
We had such promise two weeks ago dealing with this calamity. The curves are now as they were back in early March, arching to the sky.
As I have said on TV, radio, print and anyone who will listen to me, it’s not what healthcare does in the hospitals, it’s what we all do everyday in our neighborhoods and gathering establishments that gives us a chance to see this through.
I’ll never forget an evening after Katrina when I first heard the sounds of live music from the streets. Krewe du Vieux was the first parade on the streets for the next Marci Gras (sic & sick). How we behave now with a sustained new normal mentality will directly determine when we can safely enjoy and celebrate our heritage that Krewe du Vieux exemplifies better than any other community entity. I ask the Krewe to play the active healing role we have in past in influencing our members and neighbors to live and behave safely. As Clancy DuBos said on TV tonight, “wear the damn masks”. I couldn’t have said that better.
With love and wishes for good health for you all,
King Dr Jim
I couldn’t have said it better myself, especially since I’m neither a doctor nor do I play one on social media. I am, however, proud to be a member of Krewe du Vieux.
It has been alternately maddening and disheartening to watch month’s worth of sacrifice squandered by the selfish and stupid. We should be in the same position as Germany, Spain, or Italy all of which were hard hit by the pandemic. Instead, we threw away our progress. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. Please stay home and if you must go out, wear a damn mask.
I’m writing something serious and find myself in the weeds. Since I’m not Gomez Addams, I don’t like weeds so it’s time for some comic relief.
My young friend Ryne Hancock is a Cardinals fan named for Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. It’s a complicated story but he’s a complicated guy. Anyway, Ryne likes to talk about bubble wrapping cultural icons to keep them safe. He did this long before the pandemic, but it looks like a good idea as the body count mounts.
One of my Krewe du Vieux friends, Jen, is a self-described klutz. I am too. I have perfected dozens of ways of spilling food and drink. In her case, she’s had a series of mishaps during the lockdown. They resulted in this bubble wrappy outfit, which she shared elsewhere on the internets:
This is what happens when New Orleanians get bored: they create new costume forms.
Jen credited her neighbors with this idea, so the last word goes to Los Lobos:
Another day, another last word lie. Most bubble songs are boring and I’m not a rap fan, so we’ll wrap things up with the Fabulous Thunderbirds:
My stomach bug was a persistent bugger. It slowly got better but I lived without coffee for four days; an experiment I’m not eager to repeat. It’s hard to be alert when you’re under-caffeinated, Coke Zero and tea don’t quite do it. The result was a groggy unprolific blogger. So it goes.
A quick note about the featured art and its influence on the Krewe of Spank. Our theme this year was NOLAOPOLY and our float was designed to be a rolling version of the game board. I suggested that the sides should look like a Mondrian painting. Our float captain, Greg, went for it with gusto.
I may not be able to paint or draw but I have a good eye. Besides, Di Stijl is always in style.
I decided to try and put some pep in my step with this week’s theme song. It was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1930 for a Ruth Etting movie, The Nine-Fifteen Revue. Etting was later played by Doris Day in the 1956 movie Love Me or Leave Me with Jimmy Cagney as her gangster husband.
We have two versions of Get Happy for your listening pleasure. The artists need no introduction but get one anyway: Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald.
Since we’re trying to get happy, it’s time for Keith Richards’ signature song:
What says Carnival more than a rocker by a Scottish band ? Pretty much everything. Today is the Krewe du Vieux parade. I spend much of my week preparing for it with time-out for writing. In short, I’ve had neither the time nor the energy to assemble a full-blown Odds & Sods post.
Spank will be marching in the sixth position tonight. If you’re on the parade route, holler my name and I might even hear you. You could score some Spank swag. As always, our throws are special:
This week’s theme song was written by Justin Currie and Jon McLoughlin in 1996. It was the title track of Del Amitri’s penultimate studio album.
We have two versions of Some Other Sucker’s Parade: the studio original and the Dels live.
I might as well throw in another Del Amitri song for people who feel uncool because they won’t be at Krewe du Vieux this evening:
That’s it for this parade day edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. The last word goes to the Krewe of Spank in 2017:
I know what you’re thinking: all my thoughts are random. I stand accused and plead guilty as charged. I have some shame unlike some people. I mean a certain Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his. Fucker has no shame. He can’t wait to take his “victory” lap and brag about his “triumph.” It’s likely to be short-lived.
I want to assure Tommy T that I have his back while he’s having back issues. I’m not posting as early as he does because I try to keep normal hours. If only I could succeed in doing so. I woke up stupidly early this morning but not:
Iowa Blues: I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glad when the Iowa Caucuses are over. Polling them is notoriously unreliable and if the weather sucks, all bets are off. This is one time being a voter’s second choice is not a bad thing. If less than 15% support a candidate in the first round, they either leave or move to another candidate. It’s how Athenae’s boyfriend, John Kerry, won Iowa in 2004.
I pine for the days when Iowa didn’t matter. It’s all Jimmy Carter’s fault. He made it a thing in 1976. I loathe caucuses, they’re anti-Democratic and way too important for a small, rural, mostly white state.
Removal Trial Blues: I’m DVRing final arguments. I don’t have the heart to watch them live. The GOP’s misconduct should bite them in the ass come November. Typing that sentence felt good. I am trying mightily to remain a glass half full person. The numbers are on our side. Plus, President* Pennywise is bound to overreach and ask for help from Macedonia or some such shit.
Last Week Krewe Of Spank Blues: I don’t actually have the KdV blues, there’s just so much to do and only a few days to do it. This strikes me as a good time to link to last year’s minor masterpiece, Confessions of a Krewe du Vieux Member; written for the Bayou Brief before I became the 13th Ward Rambler. Speaking of which, I have some rambling to do so I need to sign off soon.
I have nothing to say about the Super Bowl. I was watching The Sorrow and the Pity. I am not making this up. I guess I stand accused of being a bad American. At least I know where Kansas City is located.
I’ve been preoccupied with two things this week: Krewe du Vieux and the removal trial. I’ve been living the former and following the latter. KdV has obviously been more satisfying. As expected, the evil fucker is going to get away with it; for now. We’ll make him pay in November. Fuck him and the entire Republican party.
I selected Talk To The Lawyer as this week’s theme song because I’ve spent so much time watching lawyers on the teevee. Great lawyers like Adam Schiff and the sleazy lawyers of Team Trump. My personal bete noir is that awful dweeby pasty-faced motherfucker Philbin whose first name I refuse to learn. Every law school class has 3 or 4 Philbins. The Philbins of the world are usually kept out of court because they’re so boring. Additionally, your basic Philbin looks like they just stepped out of a coffin.
Talk To The Lawyer was written by David Lindley for his 1982 album, Win This Record. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; one studio and the other live.
Before we jump to the break, we should consult with opposing counsel:
Yeah, I know Jackson said the song isn’t about lawyers. What the hell does he know? He’s only the songwriter.
The weird weather continues in New Orleans. I’ve compared it to a yo-yo or a rollercoaster in the past. This week’s analogy is a pendulum only with fog. Fog is the only constant. January skies are on the gloomy side: gray, overcast, and depressing. If only it were overcast in August when it’s blazing hot. So it goes.
We’re in throes of preparing for Krewe du Vieux. It’s early this year: February 8th, a mere 3 weeks away. This strikes me as a good time to link to last year’s Bayou Brief piece, Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member.
This week’s theme song was written by Dave Wakeling for the Beat’s 1982 album, Special Beat Service. It, in fact, has a beat and you can dance to it. Uh oh, I’ve morphed into Dick Clark in my dotage. What’s next? A gig hosting a game show?
We have two versions of Save It For Later for your listening pleasure. The original studio version by the English Beat (the Beat to me) and a live version by Pete Townshend.
Before jumping to the break, another song with save in the title:
All that saving made me feel like Mariano Rivera. OMG, a Yankee reference. I’m going to hell but on the way, let’s jump to the break.
I had an epiphany this morning and realized it’s Twelfth Night. Just kidding. I knew that already. Saints fans are drowning their sorrows with King Cake after yesterday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Oh well, what the hell can ya do? Not a damn thing.
In addition to kicking off the Carnival season, Twelfth Night is also Paul Drake’s Gotcha Day. We adopted the mischievous bugger in 2018. Here’s PD’s adoption day picture with Dr. A:
He’s a lucky cat and I’m a lucky man.
Are you ready for some lagniappe lagniappe catblogging? Dennie the Den of Muses Cat has retired from her duties. She’s living at home with her human. Here’s a blast from the past of Dennie with the Spank flag:
Carnival and Paul Drake’s gotcha day loom. We adopted the dear boy on Twelfth Night in 2018. I guess that means we must consume King Cake on Monday. Poor us.
I said all I have to say about the latest mess in Mesopotamia yesterday. Suffice it to say that I don’t think it’s an Archduke Ferdinand moment but it’s some serious shit,
This week’s theme song was written in 1976 by Nick Lowe for his kinda sorta solo album Jesus Of Cool, which was released in America as Pure Pop For Now People. I said kinda sorta solo album because it featured Nick’s band Rockpile on all the tracks. More about them later.
We have two versions of So It Goes for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a live medley with Heart In The City.
Both Nick Lowe and I picked up the phrase “so it goes” from Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes.
Before jumping to the break another Rockpile tune. This time the guys are backing up Nick’s then wife Carlene Carter:
Now that we’ve got all that crying out of our systems, let’s dry our eyes and jump to the break.
I mentioned a top-secret party in an undisclosed location last Saturday. Now that it’s over, I can unbutton my lip: it was Krewe du Vieux’s annual fundraiser, the Brew Dieux. It raises money for both the mother krewe and for sub-krewes like Spank, We sold food and booze and had our annual sideshow game: the dirty weiner drop.
I spent a lot of time this week researching and writing a piece about the New Orleans newspaper war for the Bayou Brief. It will be dropping in the next few days. That’s why I’m keeping this introduction, well, brief.
This week’s theme song continues the patriotic theme of the week. The left should never have let the right hijack patriotism in the Sixties, which was when Paul Simon wrote America. 1968, the year from hell, to be precise. It was one of many stellar tracks on one of Simon & Garfunkel’s best albums, Bookends.
We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the S&G original and a brilliant 1971 cover by Yes. It features some of Steve Howe’s finest finger picking and that’s saying a lot.
Now that we’ve counted the cars on the New Jersey turnpike, we’ll jump to the break and bypass Saginaw even though Michigan is nice at this time of year.
Krewe du Vieux ate my week and the Krewe of Spank whuppped my ass. Today is the big day, which is why this week’s entry qualifies as a placeholder. If you want to re-read Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member to get into the spirit of the occasion, there’s no time like the present.
This week’s theme song was written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen in 1973. It’s one of my favorite Steely Dan album tracks. It’s the touching tale of a man in love with a French Quarter prostitute named Louise. Ooh la la.
We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the steel guitar driven Steely Dan original followed by a swell 2013 cover by Boz Scaggs:
That’s it for this week. The closing bat meme is a picture taken by Dr. A near the Den of Muses.
I’m not big on Hallmark card holidays. My mother used to make fun of Mother’s Day and thought Valentine’s Day was silly. Her stock line about the former was: “It’s always mother’s day in this family.” Mom’s attitude about Hallmark card holidays prepared me for Valentine’s Day in New Orleans.
Valentine’s Day typically takes place during Carnival and I think you know what my priority is. The good news is that my awesome wife, Dr. A, agrees. In fact, Krewe du Vieux has marched on Valentine’s Day several times during its history.
We will spend today working on our costumes for the big day. And we will spend tonight with 53 of our closest friends as it’s Spank throws distribution night. Our theme is still top-secret. I wouldn’t even allow Slumlord Jared access. Unless, that is, he bribed me. I am easily corrupted. What else would you expect from a Greek guy who lives in the Gret Stet of Louisiana?
There’s an image going around social media that sums up New Orleans’ relationship with Valentine’s Day:
Holy St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Batman.
Finally a message for Dr. A. As Maybe Cousin Telly would surely say at this point:
I picked the title because it’s catchy not because I confess to all that much. I must confess that it’s a relief not to write about a certain asshole president* who lied his way through the SOTU. I didn’t watch. Dr. A and I were babysitting our de facto nieces and nephew aka the Child Army. There was, however, snark and shade involved:
Read the Child Army a book inspired by @katyreckdahl’s reporting. I said “She’s a friend of mine.” Olivia said: “You have friends?”
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Scott Pruitt having an aide badger Chik-fil-A into giving his wife a franchise. Hey, they’ll need an income when Scotty stops grifting the EPA. It’s gotten so bad that Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy publicly urged Scotty to “stop acting like a moron.” The national media has learned what the Louisiana press has known for years: Neely likes spouting off on teevee and usually has a corny one-liner saved up. If he weren’t a Republican, I might offer to supply him with some Neelyisms but he is so I won’t. Besides, I’m not adept at Hee Haw humor.
Back to Scott Pruitt. The reason I call him a chickenshit grifter is that he’s fond of grifting relatively small amounts aka chickenfeed or chickenshit. He’s even been asked to stop messing up the White House mess by eating there so much. Yo, Scotty: pay your tab, it’s only 400 bucks. In short, this is chickenshit grifting at its smallest and pettiest. Avarice thy name is Scotty.
I was astonished when this tweet landed on my timeline:
I checked to make sure this was an genuine Fox News feed. It is indeed and it’s actually “fair and balanced.” I didn’t know they were allowed to criticize Scotty. This could be a signal to the Insult Comedian that it’s time to stop watching Scotty grift. Grift, Scotty, grift.
One would think that, as a major criminal, Trump would be offended by the picayune and penny-ante antics of Scotty. They’re both grifters but Scotty is strictly small time. He’s hanging on because the president* likes his terrible policies but he can turn on a dime; just ask Trudeau or Macron. I wonder when Scotty will ask for a pardon. Let’s start the countdown…
Whenever I think of Chik-fil-A, I think of this masterful float by the Krewe du Vieux sub-kreme, Seeds of Decline, as well as this photo by my erstwhile nemesis, Michael Homan.
Photograph by Michael Homan.
Since I refuse to give Homan the last word, I might as well expel this disgusting earworm from my head.
One of these days I’ll write new lyrics and transform that horrendous tune into Watching Scotty Grift. There could even be an alternate version, Watching Scotty Blow.
The answer, my friend, is grifting in the wind, the answer is grifting in the wind.
The forecast was dire for last Saturday’s Krewe du Vieux parade. I am the Krewe of Spank’s voice of weather doom but I was wrong. It poured off and on until 3:30 PM, then the front moved on leaving us with slightly slippery streets and a dry parade.
Krewe of SPANK, which always mounts ambitious floats and even more ambitious themes, paid tribute to the pushme-pullyu over New Orleans’ status as a sanctuary city with the theme “SPANK-tuary City” and a float with an elaborate, moving whack-a-mole game.
Time to edit the editor. There’s no hyphen in Spanktuary, dude. It’s our pun and we’ll decide how to punctuate the sucker. Besides, we’ve used that moniker for our annual parade route party since its inception. Additionally, it’s Spank-a-Mole as you can see in these pictures taken by Dr. A:
Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole. I understand the SOTU was an endurance test as well. I skipped it. 80 minutes of an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head? No thanks.
It’s time for some non-Spanky pictures involving members of Drips and Discharges. They mocked pervy NOLA celebrity chef John Besh. This headpiece won the parade:
My buddy Brother Bob Bolin is also in Drips. Here he is slumming it with me:
Here’s a close up of Bob’s sign:
A reminder: Krewe du Vieux is a homemade parade. All the work was done by the talented members of the various sub-krewes. That’s what makes it so distinctive and great. The satire is pretty darn good as well
A quick shout-out to my fellow Spankster and Deadhead David Martin for turning me on to the marvelous parade route photo by David Aguiar. Thanks, man. To read more about the parade take a closer look at Kevin’s instant analysis.
Finally, this year members of the Krewe of Spank costumed as Lady Liberty with blue togas. We looked like an inebriated gang as we marched. I’m not sure if we were the Jets or the Sharks. We *were* the first Blue Wave of 2018: